With indoor seating limited or not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are serving people outdoors to keep their business afloat.
PORTLAND, Oregon — The pandemic has forced people to get creative and pivot their business in a different direction just to stay afloat. Restaurants need to make the most of this warm weather by serving people outdoors as they don’t know what kind of weather fall will bring.
As restaurants pivot, so do artisans like Danridge Geiger, who has recently been forced to think more critically than creatively.
“We were freaking out,” Geiger said. “How are things going to turn out? What does the future look like? »
Geiger is a carpenter, making furniture and cabinets under the name Background Woodworking. His company primarily uses lumber grown in Oregon and the Northwest.
Before the pandemic, Geiger’s business was growing. He worked with restaurants to create beautiful wooden bars, seating and fixtures. Business was doing so well that he needed more space to work, so he rented a large commercial warehouse in Milwaukie.
“This space was about moving to a larger scale of production to do restaurant work, built-in light fixtures, etc.,” Geiger said. “And that just changed. You know, there were probably four projects going forward. They stopped, and a lot of other people in this store are dealing with the same thing, just their daily bread, like of stuff is sort of dried up.”
Langbaan is one of the city’s fine dining darlings, where reservations are normally for six months with a prix fixe menu. The space seats 24 diners in an intimate space accessed through a secret backdoor that Geiger built inside Paadee.
Now, all that intimacy is a COVID no-no. Langbaan had to go out, where it offers walk-in seating and diners can order small plates of anything you want from the menus at both restaurants.
“I took it like opening a new sidewalk restaurant,” Geiger said of the order to build an outdoor patio. “So for me, it was like, it’s not just a temporary terrace that you just threw in cinder blocks. I wanted to create a space that was on the level of food and cuisine and kind of reputation which they established.”
Geiger completed the outdoor deck project in four days, standing on the street with a circular saw, drills and a level. It has a ramp from the sidewalk, seating, flower beds and shaded tents. Incredible outdoor terraces are appearing across the city thanks to Portland Healthy Businesses Permit which provides free support for sidewalks, parking lots and streets to maintain commerce during the pandemic.
The healthy business license is due to end on November 1 and no one knows what life will bring then. Geiger is doing more and will be riding this wave of outdoor seating jobs for as long as it lasts.
“I think it’s just resilience and ingenuity,” he said of his work to keep his business running during the pandemic.
The hope is that the virus will abate by November and that Oregon can move into other phases of reopening, allowing restaurants to seat more customers safely inside when the weather turns cold and wet. .